Day 4: Vertical & Horizontal
Read Ephesians 2:11-22
"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."
If you're tracking along with me, we've spent 3 days really digging into our salvation. We've leaned into these deep truths about who we were, whose we are, and what our purpose is in light of it all. And now Paul wants to go a step further. He goes from a message about us in relation to God (verses 1-10), to a message about us in relation to others (verses 11-22).
Have you ever heard the sermon illustration that uses the terms "vertical" and "horizontal" in explaining our posture to God? Basically, we cannot relate well to others (horizontally) if we aren't relating well to God first (vertically). If I am avoiding prayer, forgetting to read Scripture regularly, and not fully paying attention in church, there's a huge likelihood that I am impatient, unkind, and frustrated with the people in my life.
"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matt. 12:34) If my heart is being filled with the love of God (through prayer, reading the Bible, fellowship, etc.), then that love will spill over into the lives of those around me. But the converse is also true. If my heart is empty, I will have nothing good to give.
We can't fully and appropriately convey the message of salvation to others unless we first work ourselves through verses 1-10 and deeply feel those truths. With a refreshed mindset and an intentional shift of focus we can then work ourselves through verses 11-22.
After resetting your focus (vertically, using verses 1-10), take some time to pray through verses 11-22 and ask God where and how he can use you horizontally.
You are amazing. You created relationships. And You modeled relationships. Please help me to focus first on You, and then on sharing You with others. Thank You for caring about and for all of humanity. Amen.